We recently received a question on a lease matter. Please note that readers may direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. In our sole discretion, four questions will be answered each month via Facebook update – the reader’s identity will be protected. It is our way of giving back and saying thank you for your loyal support.
Our first question really shocked us. We hope that this answer sheds some light on how to deal with some of the issues lessees (persons who rent apartments/ houses) unfortunately face on a daily basis.
Question and photo received:
“My ‘landlord’ never told the owner of the house that im renting the granny flat next to the house and she showed up and thew all my stuff out on street. Yes it’s illegal I know, but the police cant do anything and the tribunal council wants me to come see them in town whilst evetything is lying outside. Anyone have a solution? No I didnt receive notice or any documentation regarding the illegal surprize eviction. Anyone want to help please?”
Section 26(3) of our Constitution: “No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”
The disgraceful act of the owner was therefore illegal, as correctly pointed out by Ms X. One understands Ms X’s frustration, as the Rental and Housing Tribunal (RHT)’s mediation of the dispute could take a while to resolve (often up to three months) and the question is… what happens to Ms X and her personal belongings in the meantime?!
Luckily the RHT is in a position to grant Ms X an interdict. An interdict orders someone to act in a certain way (either to do something or not to do something). In this case it will order the owner NOT to evict Ms X and not to throw out her personal belongings. This interdict will be valid for three months pending the outcome of the mediation session and the good news is that Ms X will be able to apply for an extension of this interdict after the expiry of the three months (should the matter remain unresolved). Once the interdict is granted, the Police WILL be in a position to assist should the owner of the property disregard the terms of the interdict.
As for Ms X’s personal belongings, we advise that Ms X tries to safely store her personal belongings with a friend or a facility – at the owner’s expense of course! Should any of her personal belongings be harmed or go missing during the time it was outside, and Ms X can prove same, Ms X also has a claim for damages against the owner of the property.
In Afrikaans there is a maxim ‘‘huur gaat voor koop’ which means that lessees may complete the term of their lease agreement regardless of a new owner/ lessor.
Note that the RHT is a free service available to all lessees and you can locate the provincial office closest to you by contacting 011 355 4000. You may notify the RHT of a dispute you have with your lessor/ landlord by completing and submitting a RHT complaint form. A file will then be opened and a case number assigned. Both parties (the lessee and lessor/ landlord) will receive the date, time and place of the mediation session that follows.
We wish you all the best and hope that you found this article useful.